A Study of College Freshman Students in Upper Level Japanese Courses: Their Challenges and Adjustments
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Izumi Master's Thesis Final ver.pdf
The vulnerability in adjusting from high school to college has been evident for some time. However, the transition for freshman students placed into second or third year level courses has not been a focal point for researchers especially with regard to foreign language acquisition and/or college adjustment. If general freshman students have difficulties due to college transition, they likely experience more stressful challenges in upper level placements because the course requirements and professor expectations are generally designed for upper-class students. This qualitative study analyzed these students’ narratives about their transition experiences in aim to clarify their academic and social challenges and discover the influence of experience upon their college adjustments. Results of questionnaires and interviews revealed: Academically, the new curriculum and teaching styles in college often confused these students; Socially, these freshman students felt isolated in the class community. Class activities such as oral practices with peers whom they did not know well increased their anxieties. Social challenge was more difficult than academic challenge. However, in general, the transition experiences had a positive effect on their college adjustment academically and socially. In particular, cooperative learning activities resulted in the facilitator more easily developing friendships as well as improving students’ language skills. Thus, this study proved that the Japanese language course/program design and delivery can have a marked impact on college adjustment. Findings implied the need to improve a Japanese language education system from the perspective of continuous language learning and to provide pedagogical assistances for these freshman students’ adjustments. Finally, this study proposed the importance for college language professors to be considerate and supportive of their students’ needs as they transition into upper level Japanese language courses upon entering higher education settings.
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